Saturday, April 21, 2012

In the Know

I've often heard people say they'd like to write fiction but they don't feel like they're qualified to put down the words in a story. For some reason they seem to believe they have to be an expert on a subject to be able to write about it.

First of all, let me say that it depends on what you're writing about. Perhaps it would be helpful to have a great deal of knowledge about a topic. Some authors that come to mind are Michael Crichton (medicine), John LeCarre (espionage), John Grisham (law) and Tess Gerritsen (medicine). Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the CNN medical correspondent, recently published a medical-based novel, "Monday Mornings."

You can make yourself an acknowledged expert through extensive research of a subject. No doubt Tom Clancy has a great deal of technical knowledge that shines in his techno-thrillers. Dan Brown immersed himself in religious doctrine for his best-selling novels. 

Writers often forget they have life experiences that make them experts in various categories. I spent more than 30 years working for newspapers, a news service and a magazine so my novels reflect my expertise and interest. When there is something I'm not sure about, I do the research before putting it in the story.

I have friends who are teachers, nurses, law enforcement officers, bankers, and so on who have a wealth of work experience and "insider" knowledge to write believable and entertaining novels.  

But I think the greatest qualification for writing fiction is to have a vivid imagination that translates into a story that resonates with readers.  Think Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Jodi Picoult, Anne Rice, Anne Tyler, Steig Larsson, J.K. Rowling, Richard Ford, Suzanne Collins, E.L. know what I mean.

Until the next time...

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the insight! In most things that require our written or verbal opinion, research should be done. (unless we are commenting on a post such as this?)